Biglaw, Lateral Moves, Partner Issues, Texas

Who Will Fill The Weil-Shaped Hole In Houston?

Earlier this week, Weil Gotshal reaffirmed its commitment to the Texas legal market. That commitment had been called into question by a spate of partner departures in recent weeks.

It’s worth noting, though, that Weil’s statement focused mainly on Dallas, which is Weil’s largest outpost in Texas. The statement was issued to the Dallas Business Review by Glenn West, Weil’s Dallas managing partner, so the Dallas focus is understandable. But it’s also fair to say that while Weil appears committed to Dallas, its commitment to Houston is weaker.

Indeed, after Houston managing partner John Strasburger recently departed, taking three other partners with him, some of our sources are wondering: Will the Weil office in Houston endure? And if not, who wants to swoop in and fill that gap?

One answer: Winston & Strawn, the firm that welcomed John Strasburger, fellow litigators Melanie Grey and Jason Billeck, and bankruptcy lawyer Lydia Protopapas. Here’s a report from the Houston Business Journal:

Chicago-based Winston has about 50 lawyers in its Houston office. Of that total, 45 are litigation lawyers, and by the end of the year, Houston managing partner John Keville says the firm plans to add up to 10 more lawyers on the corporate side. If all goes as planned, the firm will almost double by lawyer count in 12 months, as Keville wants to have just as many corporate lawyers as he does litigation lawyers.

If the firm is successful in doubling its size to about 100 lawyers, it would rank among the largest law firms in the city, according to the Houston Business Journal’s annual list. Winston & Strawn currently is not ranked on the HBJ’s list. If it were to increase its size, however, it could potentially knock Porter Hedges LLP, which has 100 local lawyers, off its No. 7 spot.

Keville said he’s talking to partners at other firms and looking to add younger associate lawyers.

Isn’t it nice to hear that a Biglaw firm is hiring? And looking for actual associates, not just non-partnership-track lawyers (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

And this isn’t just a Houston phenomenon for Winston. In the past few months, they’ve picked up patent litigators from Finnegan and a famous criminal defense lawyer. Last year, Winston rescued about 60 lawyers fleeing Dewey.

It’s nice to see firms taking different paths to success. Weil might not see Houston as fitting with its capital-markets-focused strategy, but Winston is more welcoming of opportunities in this market. Good luck to Winston as it goes deeper into Space City.

Winston law firm plans major expansion [Houston Business Journal]

Earlier: Weil Weil West: Weil Gotshal Reiterates Its Commitment To Texas
As The Weil Turns: Houston, We Have A Problem

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